From the files of passive-aggressive self-loathing comes the news that SOAPnet, the cable channel once dedicated to soap operas, has greenlit three more entertainment vehicles that basically have nothing to do with traditional soap operas.
On Nov. 10, ABC Daytime president Brian Frons announced plans for two reality shows, Greg Behrendt's Wake-Up Call and Southern Belles (working title) and an actual scripted series called Being Erica. Before you ask, Being Erica has nothing to do with daytime television's most famous character Erica Kane, that would be too much like right.
Greg Behrendt's Wake-Up Call will have the man behind the Sex and the City "He's Just Not That Into You" phenomenon helping wayward couples with their relationship issues. Okay, so we lost Soap Talk and One Day With, actual talk/reality programs about soaps, yet now we're getting a show better suited to Lifetime or Oxygen?
Southern Belles, which is being billed as a "docusoap" will follow the lives of five " single, modern women" (Does that mean no appearances from Scarlett or Melly?) in Kentucky. Think The Real Housewives of Atlanta without the sugar daddies.
The set-up for Being Erica is such a head-scratcher that this blogger won't even attempt to paraphrase it.
Being Erica follows the life of 32-year-old Erica Strange, a highly
educated, underachieving single woman who struggles to understand why her life is heading nowhere and why she has not found her right path "yet." She's made years of bad decisions and has a list of regrets several pages long as a result. Enter Dr. Tom, a mysterious man who is part therapist and part rogue. In each episode he enables Erica to go back in time and re-live an event from her past that caused regret. This time she makes different choices and, in return, gains a new perspective that helps her with her present day life.
Right, because watching a painfully-neurotic woman try to figure out why her life sucks donkey dong is just the kind of soapy programming people want to watch in the middle of an economic recession.
I'm sure my negative stance about SOAPnet's latest crop of programming will perplex most DC's readers. Yes, I am the same blogger who loved The Fashionista Diaries, cut Frons major slack for MVP and even enjoyed those E! rip-off countdown programs the cabler tried awhile back, however it is a new day.
I find it extremely disingenuous for a channel supposedly created for soap fans to basically throw the soap opera out with the bathwater in favor of low-rent, thrown together, programming that even VH1 would no doubt pass on. The news of these shows being greenlit is especially alarming on the heels of learning SOAPnet has passed on airing the Daytime Emmy Awards.
Frons keeps saying he wants to "change peoples perceptions of soap operas." Well where I come from, action speaks louder than bad programming. Instead of approving these non-soaps, ABC Daytime's Top Dude needs to focus on fixing the problems that are, you know, really making people laugh at this genre, or worse turn it off for good, i.e. bad, implausible writing and ridiculous special effects gimmicks.
By simply stopping the penning and pimping of rapemances, CGI debacles, pancake deaths and the like, Frons could get a lot more mileage toward fixing this genre than by attempting to redefine what people have loved and called a soap opera for the better part of a century. Thanks ssjohn for the tip.